Day By Day

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Steyn on Bhutto

Mark Steyn, who used to live next door to Bhutto, has some wise observations on her demise and the self-serving illusion Western politicians and pundits seem to harbor. I quote in full:

Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. "Everyone’s an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything," I wrote last month. "It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate." The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death. Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her. On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions.

Rest in peace, Benazir.

Read it here.

Also in NRO, Andy McCarthy notes that in a recent public opinion poll conducted in Pakistan Osama bin Laden received a 46% approval rating.

There is the Pakistan of our fantasy. The burgeoning democracy in whose vanguard are judges and lawyers and human rights activists using the “rule of law” as a cudgel to bring down a military junta. In the fantasy, Bhutto, an attractive, American-educated socialist whose prominent family made common cause with Soviets and whose tenures were rife with corruption, was somehow the second coming of James Madison.

Then there is the real Pakistan: an enemy of the United States and the West.

The real Pakistan is a breeding ground of Islamic holy war where, for about half the population, the only thing more intolerable than Western democracy is the prospect of a faux democracy led by a woman....
So much for Joe Biden's neo-con fantasy.

And as for those who assert that we stand with the Pakistani people, McCarthy writes:
Whether we get round to admitting it or not, in Pakistan, our quarrel is with the people. Their struggle, literally, is jihad. For them, freedom would mean institutionalizing the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism. They are the same people who, only a few weeks ago, tried to kill Benazir Bhutto on what was to be her triumphant return to prominence — the symbol, however dubious, of democracy’s promise. They are the same people who managed to kill her today. Today, no surfeit of Western media depicting angry lawyers railing about Musharraf — as if he were the problem — can camouflage that fact.

In Pakistan, it is the regime that propounds Western values, such as last year’s reform of oppressive, Sharia-based Hudood laws, which made rape virtually impossible to prosecute — a reform enacted despite furious fundamentalist rioting that was, shall we say, less well covered in the Western press. The regime, unreliable and at times infuriating, is our only friend. It is the only segment of Pakistani society capable of confronting militant Islam — though its vigor for doing so is too often sapped by its own share of jihadist sympathizers.
So much for those, including President Bush, who are pressuring Musharraf to enact radical reform. Read it here.

And as for the sainted image of Mrs. Bhutto, Spook 86 notes:

The folks on NBC... are making it sound as if Bhutto was some brave liberal alternative to the Musharraf regime, swallowing hook, line, and sinker this narrative that Benazir Bhutto was some kind of Pakistani Aung San Suu Kyi.

Okay, folks, we all know she was eloquent, went to Harvard and Oxford and was a darling of the English-language media. But she was arguably the most corrupt woman in the history of South Asia. She was removed from office not once but twice on corruption charges. And ruthless? She killed her own brother in 1996.
Read it here.

What stands out, once again, is that John McCain has good information on Pakistan and Bhutto and has his priorities straight.

Romney is also well-informed, unlike the Democratic candidates, but is in a tight point because he, together with President Bush, called on Musharraf to life martial law, which he did, and it could be argued that the lifting of marital law made this kind of tragedy more likely. Romney is sensibly impressive, but this is McCain's hour.

Here's Romney's response.

And here is McCain's.

Most of the rest are just plain embarrassing.


Here's Thompson's response. He's got all the big things right, especially the fact that we are in a war of global extent. He and Romney understand the stakes, but this is still McCain's hour.


The Republicans, including belatedly Huckabee, have got their talking point in order [I haven't heard what Paul has to say, it doesn't matter anyhow]. The assassination is now being cast by all as an incident in the global war on terror. Democrats, however, are still flopping around trying to find a point of agreement. Ed Morrissy has a roundup here.

Note: there has been an attempt on the part of the Left to blame this all on Bush. No surprise there. None of the Democratic candidates has, however, embraced that position, although Huckabee in his early mouthings came close. He really is the second coming of Jimmah Carter.


Fred is on Hannity & Colmes right now, sounding good. He's a serious guy. Too bad he won't be President.